Where to Eat, Stay & Play in West End Negril
If you’re planning some winter sun (or indeed pre-winter sun) or are simply curious about what Jamaica has to offer, let me introduce you to Negril. This resort town on Jamaica’s West coast – in my opinion – is the cooler and edgier sibling of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. I got married there, but I’m not biased or anything. Honest.
Hotels around Seven Mile Beach and Downtown Negril vary massively. You’ll find everything from budget and eco-friendly BnBs to all-inclusive and independent hotels. The Downtown area is a great destination for families and those in search of a fly-and-flop break. But if you’re looking for eco-chic hotels, authentic Caribbean restaurants and a boho vibe, West End Negril – also known as ‘The Cliffs’ – has it all. Here’s your ultimate guide.
Need to Know: Finding Your Way Around Negril
The first thing you need to know about Negril is it’s big. And I mean really big. The coastline from each end of the town runs for about 10 miles and the West End lies at the most southerly point of Negril where Seven Mile Beach ends and ‘The Cliffs’ begin.
Getting around can be quite expensive so do your research on where you want to be. It may set you back $20 or so for a one way trip to the shops or the beach. But you’ll find that many bars and restaurants offer free shuttles to pick you up from your hotels if you call up to book. Being away from the beach, the shopping malls and a higher density of amenities is a small price to pay for a more off-beat and relaxed vibe.
West End Negril Hotels & Places to Stay
Acccommodation-wise, Negril’s West End presents dozens of boutique stays. With clever natural designs that blend seamlessly into the jagged cliffs, they at first, look pretty unassuming. Once inside, you’ll find wonderful jungle-like gardens, multi-tiered rocky platforms for sunbathing and eco-cottages that have plenty of charm. Here’s a handful of the best.
Samsara Cliff Hotel – a more affordable boutique option with a friendly and unpretentious vibe.
Rockhouse Hotel – a stunning eco-chic hotel with bags of personality and a stunning infinity pool that looks out to the Caribbean Sea. Choose from a range of basic guestrooms and studios or higher-tiered thatched roof cottages. Fab juices, organic dining and cocktails. Perfect for honeymoons. Lovely spa.
Catcha Falling Star Resort – a whimsical hotel with layered walkways and bridges, a lovely pool and thatched balcony-fronted rooms, cottages and suites named after the zodiac signs.
The Caves – a series of colourful cliffside cottages (and higher-end suites and private villas) moulded into the rocks with seaside interiors and a star-studded clientele. Gorgeous spa and oodles of romance.
If you’re looking for a totally off-beat stay, I just have to mention Somewhere West. Set in the furthermost neighbourhood of Negril, it’s so far from anything it’s dubbed the ‘Deep West End’. But in return for its secluded location, you get a personalised hospitality, bright and spacious self-catering suites, uninterrupted ocean views and a blissfully relaxed feel.
Places to Eat, Drink & Play
Eat & Drink
Rick’s Cafe: If you think of West End Negil, you’ll probably think of Rick’s Cafe – the twice hurricane-hit bar that first landed in Negril in 1974. Come here for the best Jamaican sunset, numbingly strong rum punch and watch plucky divers leap from ridiculously high platforms into the ocean. It’s something of an institution that you have to experience once.
Sips and Bites: I love this place. It’s as frills-free as it gets but you will eat some of the tastiest Caribbean cuisine out there. Think ackee and saltfish, curried goat and curried conch washed down with bottles of Red Stripe. It’s on One Love Drive – an address I bet anyone wishes for.
Just Natural: Again, if you like refined, this isn’t for you. But if you like an organic meat-free menu served in a wild, overgrown, secret garden setting, go immediately. Also drop by to breakfast on omelettes, French toast and healthy fresh juices.
Xtabi: If you want to mix things up a bit, head to the pretty Xtabi resort for Jamaican brekkies and North American cuisine. They also do a good conch burger.
Pushcart: The most colourful, happy jerk centre you will ever find in Jamaica. With vibrant murals, tasty Caribbean menu and fantastic views overlooking The Rockhouse, this place is a must for either food or fantastic rum-based drinks.
3 Dives: An roadside spot of wooden benches and great ocean views. It’s as casual as it gets but it’s possibly one of the most sought-after places to eat jerk chicken and seafood. Known for its super spicy jerk sauce and fresh grilled lobster.
Ciao Jamaica: If you’ve ever wondered what ‘Jitalian’ food tastes like, come to the best Italian-Jamaican fusion restaurant in West End Negril. Don’t expect speedy service, but do expect tasty jerk chicken pizzas, reggae lasagne and a leafy balcony setting to sip wine.
Ivan’s at Catcha Falling Star – I adore this place. With a bar filled with nick naks and a outdoor restaurant illuminated by fairylights, it’s one of the most romantic restaurants you’ll find. If you’re on honeymoon, book the private dining spot.
The Caves: La crème de la crème of chic island restaurants. The Caves serves up classy Jamaican cuisine in a bucket list-worthy location. With private dining and candle-lit private dinners in the grotto-style caves, this place wins on romance and style. Visit the Blackwell Rum bar for the Island Outpost hotel’s signature tipple and panoramic ocean views.
Play: Things to see & do
Negril Lighthouse: A quiet spot for fantastic photo opportunities and ocean views.
Rick’s Cafe: Head to this famous institution for cliff-divers, music and rum punch by the pool.
Seven Mile Beach: Although this isn’t in the West End, you can’t come to Negril without hitting the beach. Walk the length of this 5.5 mile stretch of sand and reward yourself with a Red Stripe in one of the beach bars.
Catamaran cruise: A fantastic way to admire the cliffs of West End Negril. Stop by the famous Pirate’s Cave, underneath Pushcart restaurant – the spot where Steve McQueen famously leapt from the cliffs in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Visit Barney’s Hummingbird Garden: Meet characterful ‘Barney’ and feed pint-sized hummingbirds in this tropical garden.
Pamper yourself: Many of the hotels of West End Negril are home to superb spas – so go for a Blue Mountain coffee body scrub at The Caves or take advantage of the complimentary foot massages the spa therapists offer poolside, on certain days of the week at The Rockhouse.